Scheherazade’s Sea: continuing journey, 2021

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Scheherazade’s Sea: continuing journey, 2021, was a year in the making. It was yet again another groundbreaking work on several levels. Personally, I have always presented my “Scheherazade’s Sea” series as a solo artist – creator and performer. This rendition unpacks the continuing adventures of Scheherazade with a brand new approach: Scheherazade was played by the beautiful and talented singer, performer Claire Teo, and joining the team were two other artists, Timothy Lee and Ariel Koh. This made Scheherazade’s Sea: continuing journey, 2021, not only disabled-led (conceptualised, executed and co-directed by me) but also a work featuring a cast of differently disabled artists at various stages of their artistic journeys.

Freelance artists around the world struggle to make ends meet. In Singapore, where the arts is even less valued by society, this struggle can sometimes be very fierce. For freelance disabled artists wanting to turn professional, and departing from the charity models, the scenario is bleak. But artists always hold on to hope, keeping our dreams alive even if by a thin thread. Since Scheherazade first appeared in 2010, my personal and professional journey has been an amazing one, at times tumultuous, but always incredibly thrilling and never boring. It is a story of survival against the odds and unexpected achievements – all of which I owe to my party of valiant human supporters and to Lucy Like-a-Charm. Upon returning to Singapore, I decided that this part of my life’s journey will be one that is actively “paying it forward” for as long as I can create art.

Scheherazade’s Sea 2021, is about newness – finding new friends and loyal supporters, and being gifted the honour and blessing of Clement Space in the form of a differently embodied creature named Lucy Like-a-Charm. In honour of all the people who have supported me so generously in a plethora of ways, I am now using Scheherazade’s Sea to provide practical spaces for other disabled artists in Singapore mentorship and learning experiences they may not otherwise have access to without the benefit of an overseas education. Beyond the narrative and multi-dimensional aspects of the work itself, my intentions were for this work to be a true-to-live yet safe space for professional training and experience for the cast, wherever they may be along their own paths. I can only do this, of course, with continued support from my faithful friends, my younger sister Althea, and my confrère Peter Sau, who began my Singapore journey for me. I was inspired by Peter’s vigour and spirit in his seminal work “Project Tandem” and his role in “The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues,” and am thankful for our serendipitous meeting – because, being autistic, I have no idea how to network like neurotypical people do and so every angel in my life is to me truly a gift of providence. Thank you, Peter!

Scheherazade’s Sea 2021 is also a practice-based research into navigating the realm of the so-called ‘invisible disability’ as well as un-noticed vulnerability, and forging new strategies to artistic practice that provides access in ways that are unavailable in traditional approaches and methods. I am currently working on the final report and will share my findings soon.

A note on why I continue to make this work freely accessible to all, despite having been told to keep away from the public eye in order to pitch it to various festivals and events in Singapore and overseas. When I created Scheherazade’s Sea, way back in 2010, I meant it to be a richly textured work that everyone and anyone could easily partake of, without exclusions or arbitrary boundaries to separate people. That intent still prevails today, and even if it means no festival or big event would now want to feature this work, it is ok. The latter will be a feather in my cap and that of all the cast and crew, most definitely, but I prefer still to stay true to my raison d’être as illustrated here by a picture of Lucy Like-a-Charm, black greyhound wearing a turquoise collar with bright red silk flower, in down position, half her body visible, long slim legs, paws outstretched and facing left, against a textured ‘furry’ beige background, and cursive text in black reading:

“It is not my purpose to ‘fix’ what is ‘broken’ but to empower beauty
in the vulnerable and unnoticed.”
©Dawn-joy Leong 2010

I hope you enjoy the video and if you are a curator, we would, of course, love the opportunity to be featured in your festival or curated collective show if you understand my decision to make this video publicly available.

If you’d like to read my opening speech at the online premiere, please click on this link.

K9 Assistance (Ltd) – launch video

After a year of hard work, we have finally launched our new charity! K9 Assistance (Ltd) Singapore is Singapore’s first and only charity organisation focusing on assistance dogs for the disabled. We are committed to educate, create better understanding, awareness and acceptance, as well as eventually match assistance dogs with disabled people.

In this video, I announced Lucy’s retirement from active duty as my assistance dog. She will continue to share her special joy as K9 Assistance’s Ambassadog!

Check out our launch video on Youtube!

Please do also support us at giving.sg/k9assistance – every little gift goes a long way!

Follow us on Facebook at K9 Assistance Ltd Singapore. Join our group, engage in discussions, ask questions and help spread the awareness and acceptance!

Scheherazade’s Sea: stories and songs from a hidden world.

Scheherazade’s Sea: stories & songs from a hidden world. 2020.

Dear Friends, here is my most recent work. A fully digitalised re-arrangement of the original Scheherazade’s Sea, 2010.

Welcome to “Scheherazade’s Sea: stories and songs from a hidden world.”

In the next twenty minutes or so, through video, stories, poetry and songs, you will see, hear and experience tiny reflections from my Autistic world.

The title is inspired by Scheherazade in the ‘Arabian Nights’ folk tales, whose stories to the wicked Sultan helped her survive and saved her life.

My Scheherazade is an Autistic girl, journeying alone through an unkind world, where she encounters confusing twists and turns of lies, betrayal and disappointment. When at last, she begins to embrace and love her unique Autistic self with courage and determination, Scheherazade discovers that her Autistic world, Scheherazade’s Sea, while misunderstood by others, is actually a beautiful one, full of wonderment and hope, a deep and wide ocean alive with infinite possibilities. It is then, that she finds strength within to continue along her journey, bravely embracing her unique Autistic Joy.

“Scheherazade’s Sea: stories and songs from a hidden world” is fully digitalised and revised from its original version, which was performed in Hong Kong in 2010, and The World Stage Design Festival in Cardiff, U.K. in 2013.

Sound engineering by Karen Low (Singapore)
Portrait of Scheherazade by Kateryna Fury (USA)
Little Duckling narrated by Sumita Majumdar (UK)

Supported by the National Arts Council Singapore & SG Culture Anywhere.

Professional Engagement

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Email: dr.dawnjoyleong@gmail.com

DESIGNING CLEMENT SPACE: conducive space concept, design and creation.

Design, creation & consultation for calm rooms, quiet corners, cosy pods.

Design, creation and consultation of sensory engagement in calm space.

TALKS / WORKSHOPS / LECTURES: art-science research & practice.

Clement Space: concept, design & creation

Autism, Neurodiversity & Multi-Art Praxis

Autism, Art & Mental Wellbeing

Autism Neurodiversity & Education

COMMISSIONS

Research – Autism, Neurodiversity, Multi-Art Practice & Design.

Writing – reviews, articles, critical analysis.

Art & Music Installations, Exhibitions, Performances.

Acknowledgements

2015-Sonata---Lucy-Sonorous-Repose

Sonorous Repose – Lucy Like-a-Charm 2015 by Dawn-joy Leong     (please do not reuse without seeking prior permission)

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We have made it! The PhD has passed muster and now it’s time for acknowledgements.

 —-

Scheherazade’s Sea – autism, parallel embodiment and elemental empathy.

 Dawn-joy Sau Mun Leong, UNSW Art & Design, April 2016

Dedication:

To my father, Dr. Leong Vie-Ying (1930-2007).

Acknowledgements:

This work would not have been possible without the following:

Deepest gratitude to my supervisors,

Professor Jill Bennett and Dr. Petra Gemeinboeck,

for your patience, guidance, advice, support, and for believing.

Thank you, Dr. Sally Clark, for your advice, encouragement and support.

My Lucy Like-a-Charm

My family:

Thank you, mother, Molly Chye Gek Ong, for your care and fortification.

My beloved baby-sister and faithful champion, Althea Leong,

thank you for always being here, there, and everywhere for me.

Dear brother-in-law, Robin Sing,

thank you for your patience, sustenance and unquestioning support.

My canine nephews, Bizcuit and Tiny Sing

Thank you, my friends who have played important roles in my journey:

Yee Sang, Ho

Rick Feedtime

Minh Vuong

Kateryna Fury

Colin G. Marshall and Misty Marshall

Shan Patterson and Sally Patterson

C.J. Wan Ling, Wee

Margie Anne Edmonds

Brad Beadel

Gavin Koh

Boon Ling, Yee

Shane Fenton

Andrea Kingan

Rosemary Wilkinson

and

Everyone who has walked a part of our journey alongside us, however briefly, every single moment has mattered.

Art in a Hidden World – creative process and invisible anomaly

Paper presented in The Arts in Society 2012 conference

Published by The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 7 (2013), p. 29-39; and in the process of publication in The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, (Common Ground Publishing).

Art in a Hidden World – creative process and invisible anomaly. 

Dawn-joy Leong, 2012. Continue reading

Is Music a Language? (the seed)

A brief thought. I am reminded by a discussion two years ago with a well known ethnomusicologist and a brilliant music composer-theorist, about whether music is a language or not.

The ethnomusicologist said no, because there wasn’t a system of semantic meaning in musical expression.

The composer said yes, because music expresses meanings. Continue reading

My Life with Hypersensitivity and Asperger’s

My Life with Hypersensitivity and Asperger’s – lecture notes from a session with professionals in special education, specifically about sensory acuity and coping with hypersensitivity. (UNSW, School of Education, 14 May 2012, 5-7pm.) Continue reading

Laurie Anderson: musings of an admirer

Laurie Anderson: post-modern Renaissance woman, Houdini of artistic stereotype and 21st century iconoclast.

There is no ‘frame’ or ‘box’ in which Laurie Anderson may be contained – she is an idiosyncratic artist with a powerful, dynamic persona projected through her eclectic melting-pot of talents as visual artist, musician, poet, storyteller, dramatist, dancer, performer, philosopher, political commentator, producer, electronic gadgetry wizard and inventor. Continue reading

Thoughts on Music and Culture – a discussion

Thoughts on Music and Culture: a discussion with reference to “Music and Culture: Historiographies of Disjuncture” by Philip V. Bohlman and “Music and Social Categories” by John Shepard, both essays from “The Cultural Study of Music – a critical introduction”. Continue reading